What’s more nightmarish than a flooded apartment? With your furniture and personal belongings soaking, and the place uninhabitable in a span of days, it’s no surprise that you’d wonder if you can continue staying there.
You either need assurance that it won’t happen again, or you’ll find a new apartment and move out. But is it alright to evacuate even without finishing the lease?
This article will help you explore your rights as a tenant and whether or not you can break your lease if your apartment floods.
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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Can You Break Your Lease When Apartment Floods?
You may have the right to break your lease when your apartment floods if the damage is so severe that it makes the apartment uninhabitable and your landlord does not remediate the flooding within a reasonable period of time.
Different states will have different laws governing habitability (and some may even have specific laws around flooding), so it makes sense to look those up if you find yourself in this situation.
For example, they may have different rules around providing notice of termination, a landlord’s timeline for remediating the flooding damage, and their obligation (if any) to provide temporary housing while the repairs are being made.
For your convenience, here’s our 50 state reference table (including D.C.) that will link you to the official landlord tenant laws of your state.
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Things To Consider When Apartment Floods
Of course, when you are faced with a flooding situation, your right to break the lease may not be top of mind. Here are some key things you will want to do when the flooding is actually happening (and many of these tips will come in handy when building the case for our termination).
Locate the Source of the Flooding
Unless the source of the flooding is obvious (like a hurricane, an overflowing sump pump, or a hole in the roof), you need to find the water source that’s causing your apartment to flood and shut it off. It could be coming from any number of locations, including a leak from a broken pipe, overflowing toilet, leaking sink, clogged sewers, HVAC condensate line, and so on.
Where the flooding can be stopped by shutting off the water supply, that should be your first priority.
Notify Your Landlord About the Flooding
Contact your landlord so that he’ll be able to help you locate the source of the flooding (if you’re having trouble finding it) and quickly direct you to emergency maintenance.
Flooding is one of the quickest ways to cause serious damage to the property, so your landlord will be highly motivated to get it under control in a hurry.
While this is happening, rescue your valuables and move them to a dry place.
Inform Neighbors Who May Be Affected
This step is probably most relevant if you live above another apartment.
Water is travels downward (thanks gravity), so it’s likely that if there is significant flooding, the water is going to find its way to the lower unit.
Notifying your neighbor will alert them to the situation and help them minimize damage to their property as well.
Cleaning Up and Making Necessary Repairs
After an apartment floods, the clean-up operation begins. This can include draining the remaining puddles, drying out damaged areas, and throwing out carpeting that’s beyond repair.
If your landlord is responsible for covering the costs of these repairs, obviously you should contact them to arrange for it.
Dealing with apartment floods is a stressful situation.
However, the good news is that if you are faced with this situation and want to get out of your lease, you have some options.
Now if you want to get out of your lease, but you don’t have a clear termination right due to the flooding (most likely because it was minor and not really impacting habitability), there are other ways to terminate your lease early.
Check out my full article on how to break your lease early without penalty for more details. It includes 11 situations where you can terminate early (plus one bonus option that applies in all situations).